A 30 year old Black trans woman was found dead in Marvin Gaye Park in Washington, DC on Monday, October 2, 2023. Her name was Skylar Harrison (sometimes styled Skylar Harrison Reeves.)
The circumstances of her death and how her body was found have led to many questions directed to the D.C. Police investigating her death given the history of investigating the killing of another Black trans woman earlier this year.
Skylar Harrison was found in Marvin Gaye Park, stripped of her clothing and holding her genitalia, by cleaning workers. Her belongings were missing and the dress she was wearing pulled up over her head, with her breasts exposed.
Rhonda Hailes, Skylar’s aunt, told the Blade that a homicide detective, whose last name she recalls is McWilliams, came to her house in Capitol Heights, Md., where Skylar, shortly after he said her niece’s body was found in a secluded section of Marvin Gaye Park.
The detective also told her investigators could not find any footprints from the tennis shoes Skylar was wearing on the muddy ground along the path leading to where she was found.
According to her family, Skylar did not frequent this part of town. Police are investigating, but seem to lean toward the belief that Skylar overdosed. This mix of information is certainly not the first time the death of a trans person, especially Black trans women, has been muddied by blame – they are sex workers, they use drugs, they spend time in undesirable neighborhoods, etc. Victim blaming is almost as frequent as deadnaming and misgendering.
Obviously, it is possible for both things to be true – Skylar could have used and been the victim of a violent crime. The condition that her body was discovered does suggest a violent encounter. My own immediate response was that she was sexually violated and left like a message to other trans women. How could that be interpreted otherwise? It will require advocates in DC to continue demanding justice from a system that does not value Black trans women. And some of us need to do better supporting those advocates.
D.C. Safe Haven, a new organization providing support to local trans women, organized a candlelight vigil in honor of Skylar on Oct. 9 at the entrance to Marvin Gaye Park New to DC, but accomplishing much in Baltimore before expanding.
It is important to note that the DMV area has unfortunately been known for violence against black trans women of color. Skylar Harrison, who was not known to be in this area, has raised suspicions that she may have been dumped there by someone using the location to dispose of her body. This area is known for heavy foot traffic, particularly for survival sex workers, where we have tragically lost other individuals
Next, we recognize Skylar as the 30th trans or gender nonconforming person whose violent death has been reported in 2023. She is the 25th trans person of color and the 20th Black trans person. “Reported* is an important distinction to make as we know there are more folx whose deaths go unacknowledged.
Killings of trans folx in the DMC in previous years include:
Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
Jasper Aaron Lynch – McLean, Virginia, July 7, 2022. Age 26.
Taya Ashton — Suitland, Maryland, July 17, 2021. Age 20.
Ashanti Carmon – Fairmount Heights, Maryland. March 30, 2019. Age: 27
Zoe Spears – Fairmount Heights, Maryland. June 14, 2019. Age 23
Further, D.C. police ask anyone who has information that may help in their investigation to contact police at 202-727-9099. An anonymous tip can also be sent by text message to the police TEXT TIP LINE at 50411.
Rest in power, Skylar. Your life was far more than the circumstances of your death. There are neighbors and friends standing up for you to ensure justice as well as to protect others. Your legacy will light the way. I am sorry we did not do more to create a safe community for you and all trans women.
May your memory be a revolution.
This is our list
This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2023. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.
- Jasmine ‘Star’ Mack – District of Columbia, January 7, 2023. Age 36.
- KC Johnson – Wilmington, North Carolina, January 13, 2023. Age 27.
- Tortuguita – Weelaunee Forest, Georgia, January 18, 2023. Age 26.
- Unique Banks – Chicago, Illinois, January 23, 2023. Age 21.
- Zachee Imanitwitaho – Louisville, Kentucky, February 3, 2023. Age 26.
- Maria Jose Rivera Rivera – Houston, Texas, January 21, 2023. Age 22.
- Cashay Henderson – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 27, 2023. Age 31.
- Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland – Mechanicsville, Maryland, March 24, 2023. Age 18.
- Ashley Burton – Atlanta, Georgia, April 11, 2023. Age 37.
- Rasheeda Williams – Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2023. Age 35.
- Banko Brown – San Francisco, California, April 27, 2023. Age 24.
- Ashia Davis – Detroit, Michigan, June 2, 2023. Age 34
- Chanell Perez Ortiz – Carolina, Puerto Rico, June 25, 2023. Age 29.
- Jacob Williamson – Pageland, South Carolina, July 4, 2023, Age 18.
- Camdyn Rider – Winter Haven, Florida, July 21, 2023. Age 21.
- Kylie Monali – Riverside, California, September 7, 2022, Reported September 2023.
- DéVonnie J’Rae Johnson – Los Angeles, California, August 7, 2023. Age 27.
- Thomas ‘Tom-Tom’ Robinson – Calumet, Indiana, August 17, 2023. Age 28.
- Charm Wilson – Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 2023. Age 32.
- Bre’Asia Bankz – Arizona, September 5, 2023. Age 27.
- Alexa Sokova – Palm Bay, Florida, September 5, 2023. Age 30.
- YOKO – New Orleans Louisiana, September 19, 2023. Age 30.
- Codii Lawrence – Weirton, West Virginia, September 5, 2023. Age 25.
- Unidentified Person – Dallas, Texas,. July 2023. Age unknown
- Unidentified Person – Eugene, Oregon, August 10, 2023. Age unknown.
- Luis Ángel Díaz Castro – San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 12, 2023. Age 22.
- Thaddeus ‘Tad’ Keegan Bradley – Mendocino, California, Sept 21st, 2021. Reported April 27, 2023.
- Sherlyn Marjorie – Albuquerque, Nex Mexico, September 17, 2023. Age 35.
- Chyna Long – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 8, 2023. Age 20.
- Skylar Harrison – Washington, DC, October 2, 2023. Age 30.